Sarah Waiswa, Discovery Award, Rencontres d’Arles 2016
ARTIST PRESENTED BY AIDA MULUNEH
STRANGER IN A FAMILIAR LAND
It is not often that you come across new talent that breaks the aesthetic boundary that is labeled as ‘African Photography’, a term that is loosely thrown to shackle the diversity of photography from the continent. With this said, Sarah’s approach to photography is one of the curious gaze that reflects the complexities of her surroundings and of a continent that is still captured by others through a lens which perpetuates clichés. Sarah’s Stranger in Familiar Land series is a collection of images that takes a diff erent approach to the challenges of the albino community, one that is presented with beauty, humility and dignity.
Stranger in Familiar Land is a series that looks at the persecution of albinos in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, for example, they are hunted for their body parts, which are believed to possess magical powers. People fear what they do not understand and, because of this fear, people with albinism continue to be at the receiving end of ridicule and persecution.
This project groups together various portraits of an albino woman set against the backdrop of the Kibera slums, which are a metaphor for my turbulent vision of the outside world. The series illustrates the life of an albino who is forced to face challenges emanating from both the sun and society. The series also explores how the sense of nonbelonging has led her to wander and exist in a dreamlike state. My hope is that these photographs will generate discussion about albinism and incite people to rethink their own beliefs while simultaneously raising awareness about the plight of albinos living in Africa.
Prints by Processus, Paris.
Framing by Circad, Paris.
Exhibition venue: Grande Halle.